The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg’s The Fly is widely considered one of the handful of good remakes.
It was loosely based on George Langelaan’s short story from 1957, which also formed the basis for the 1958 film The Fly.
Cronenberg made it into a unique and horrific vision, which is genuinely disturbing for the time it was made, and still holds up to modern viewings (despite obvious technological differences.)

When it was released that year, the film made Jeff Goldblum a household name, and received incredibly good reviews for a horror film.
David Cronenberg was surprised when The Fly became embraced as a cultural metaphor for AIDS, since he originally intended the film to be a more general analogy for disease itself, terminal conditions like cancer and, more specifically, the aging process.
He was quoted as saying;
“If you, or your lover, has AIDS, you watch that film and of course you’ll see AIDS in it, but you don’t have to have that experience to respond emotionally to the movie and I think that’s really its power; This is not to say that AIDS didn’t have an incredible impact on everyone and of course after a certain point people were seeing AIDS stories everywhere so I don’t take any offense that people see that in my movie. For me, though, there was something about The Fly story that was much more universal to me: aging and death–something all of us have to deal with.”

The Fly was nominated for and won the Academy Award for Best Special Effects in 1987, and many people were actually rooting for Jeff Goldblum to be nominated for Best Actor!
His performance in the film is great, and the characters transformation from man to monster is incredibly well done, with practical effects work that still stands out today.

The film is memorable and beloved for many reasons.
Of course, I already mentioned the great bug-eyed performances from Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis and the amazing effects work, but the success of the film has a lot to do with Cronenberg’s own style and vision.

Initially, Cronenberg was slated to direct Total Recall at the time, and was brought in after the original director, Robert Bierman, had to leave the film due to a death in the family. Cronenberg did an extensive rewrite of the script, keeping in some of the beats of the original, while inserting his own obsession with body horror and sexuality prominently into the mix.
The unsettling feeling of having something growing inside of you is the main thing that makes the viewer squirm while watching The Fly, and the director really makes us effectively feel it.

A rare deleted scene from the film shows Cronenberg’s further attempt at gross-out body horror.
In the scene below, Brundlefly tests out his new third pod on a cat and baboon, fusing them together into a freaky cat-monkey hybrid that scampers across the room. After he beats it to death, he falls out a window and grows an insect leg from his stomach, which he then bites off.
I’m not making this up. Check it out.

The Fly has inspired tons of great fan art over the nearly three decades since it’s 1986 release. Check out some great examples by talented artists below, and follow the links to their sites!

Artist unknown, but this pic is glorious!

Although it has been some time since Cronenberg has made a horror film, he has in fact expressed interest in making a sequel of sorts to The Fly. He has even written a screenplay that has struggled to get financed, for some reason!
Cronenberg described the project as, “more of a sequel or a sidebar. It was a meditation on fly-ness. None of the same characters or anything and, of course, with an understanding of modern technology.”
Which sounds like a fantastic idea! In a 2012 interview with Empire, he elaborated further, saying;
“Well, I did talk to Fox, because my agent found out that they were approaching people to do a remake of my film. He sort of said, ‘Well, you know, what about David?’ And they said, ‘Well, we never thought of that!’ I think they’d been to Guillermo del Toro and Michael Bay. I said, ‘Long ago I proposed a sequel to Mel Brooks when he said he wanted to make a sequel.’ He didn’t like what I proposed because he said it wasn’t the same as the original movie. ‘A sequel,’ he said, ‘should be more of the same.’ And I said, ‘Well, Mel, then I’m not interested.’ And he went off and did his sequels (sic) and they had nothing to do with me and they weren’t very successful. But I still had this idea in mind – which no, I won’t tell you – and I said to Fox, ‘I’ll write that idea up because, as I think of it, it could be interesting.’ And they were excited about it enough to pay me to write a script. And then for various reasons it kind of got bogged down. I don’t know exactly why. It seems now that it’s not going to happen. But it’s a script that I like and would do. It’s not exactly a sequel, and it’s certainly not a remake. More a meditation ; it involves teleportation.”

What a sad thing that a project like this can’t find the funding. I know that I would love to see Cronenberg return to horror, and especially expand upon the mythology he began with The Fly in 1986.
A relatively original idea exists, from a proven A-list director, and Hollywood is content to just regurgitate the same shit we have already seen, over and over again…

What a shame.
Well, at least we will always have the original, now available in a beautiful Blu-ray edition of The Fly loaded with special features from Amazon!
I hope you enjoyed this quick look at this 1986 classic, and be sure and do your homework and check out the other 80’s Babies we have talked about in the past!
Catch you next time, maggots!

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